Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, former veterinary assistant, and author of the online dog training course "Brain Training for Dogs."
Why Is My Dog So Unpredictable?
Did you ever find yourself thinking that your dog has a dual-personality, closely resembling the canine version of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde? Is your dog one minute friendly with your guests and the next growling, barking, or even snapping? It is normal to feel quite upset, especially if you have invested lots of time in socializing and training your dog, and if this is a fairly new behavior.
As a dog trainer, it is not uncommon for me to hear about owners wondering why their dog has drastically changed. Luckily, there are some possible explanations for this behavior. However, good management and a strategic plan are a must to help Rover gain back that stable temperament owners are missing so badly.
Causes for Such Unpredictable Behaviors
Often, dog owners assume their dog is acting out of protection. In true protection however, you would expect some sort of threat going on. Dog trainer and behavior consultant Pam Young claims ''true protection dogs are FRIENDLY to people when their owner has no reason to feel threatened.'' The following are some potential causes for unpredictable Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde syndromes.
Pain and Medical Conditions
Many dogs go into a ''Dr Jeckyl Mr Hyde'' attitude when they have on and off ear infections. In this case, it hurts being pat on the head, especially when the ears are hot and inflamed! Pain is a plausible and understanding trigger that may cause similar reactions, however, there are other medical conditions known to cause aggression in previously friendly dogs such as hypothyroidism and Cushing's disease.
Most dogs are not protective or guarding, so if your dog is reacting to friendly people in non-threatening scenarios, what you are seeing is likely a case of ''weak nerves'' or a dog telling people petting him that he has had enough. It may be difficult to determine without seeing his body language whether your dog is trying to convey ''you are making me uncomfortable'' or if he is saying a more assertive ''I have had enough, now back off!'' kind of statement.
Second Fear Stage
If the dog is between 6 and 14 months old, it could he or she is going through its second fear period, according to ''Diamonds in the Ruff.''
- ''Many dogs will show a rise in their level of aggression (reactivity) during this time. In large breeds this period could extend longer since it is tied to sexual maturity. Incidents may occur more than once. Corresponds with growth spurts. Therefore it may happen more than once as the puppy matures.''
- ''May suddenly be apprehensive about new things or shy or timid of new people or situations.''
- ''This is a fear of new situations and are handled with the utmost patience.''
- ''It is better to ignore the whole situation than to reinforce the fear by praising the dog or petting him while he is afraid. When you "reassure" a dog with pets and "it's okay, fella", you are telling him it is okay to be frightened and you are creating a potential problem.''
- ''Build confidence through training.''
Dislike of Head Pats/Hugs
Are people patting your dog on the head? Many dogs do not do well being pat on the head. His growling may be your dog's way to say ''I do not like this approach.'' Many dogs do better with a chest rub. Patricia McConnell in her book For the Love of a Dog claims that wolf researchers claim to use head pats to discourage pushy wolves and have them leave! Many dogs dislike hugs. Read the reasons why
Aloofness and ''I've Had Enough'' Syndrome
If your dog does well for the first few seconds of being pet and then becomes aggressive after a while, it could be they are OK with an initial introduction and then have simply had enough. Some dogs become a bit more aloof as they grow, while others may simply want to be ''in charge'' of their interactions. Even with other dogs, they may be OK with a dog sniffing them for a few seconds, but then they may change attitude if the interaction is longer than what they are comfortable with.
If this is the case, make the introduction with your friends very brief, simply have the people let him sniff their hands, and then if he seems friendly, have them ask him a sit. If he complies, let them give a brief pat followed by a treat. This should accomplish several things:
- It should significantly reduce his chances for growling and the less he growls the more likely the behavior will extinguish.
- It should leave a positive impression since it leaves him craving for more. Just as you would stop a training session on a positive note, try doing the same when he is around people.
- The command should diffuse any tension since it will help the dog concentrate on something else other than being reactive.
- By petting briefly before delivering the treat the dog should learn to associate being pet with a treat, and therefore increase his willingness to be pet. He may therefore with time, perhaps tolerate gradually longer petting sessions, however, avoid this if you cannot read signs of increasing stress and discomfort. You want to make safety your top priority and keep your dog comfortable, always ending your session on a positive note. Many times when dogs react upon being pet, the interaction was too long and too close and personal for the dog's taste. Keep it short and sweet if your dog wants attention, so to put him to success. Don't put him in the situation of having to communicate "I had enough."
It's worth mentioning ''conflict-related aggression,'' where dogs exhibit ambivalent signs, like one moment they want to be pet, and the next they are aggressive and no longer in the mood. According to the Purdue University Animal Behavior Clinic: ''Affected dogs learn to use aggression to get themselves out of any uncomfortable situation. The aggression is reinforced because the anticipated "bad" event does not occur.''
Growling becomes a way for the dog to protect itself from perceived harm (which may be unfounded), and therefore terminates the uncomfortable situation, and since most likely your friends stop petting him the moment he growls, the growling is reinforced and puts roots.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: Why does my Labrador suddenly switch between the happiest sweetest dog there is and suddenly snapping at our hands if he is being petted? Usually, he is the one that is initiating the pets, and if he wants no more he walks away, but sometimes he just bites out of nowhere with no visible indications it's coming.
Answer: There can be various causes for this behavior. Has he always been this way or is this a new behavior? If it's a new behavior, it might be worthy of seeing the vet. Keep record of whether this behavior takes place when he is touched in a particular area. Also, worthy of wondering is whether the times he tries to bite is because he is being cornered or restrained in some way that prevents him from walking away.When dogs can't move away, they are likely to become defensive and bite. Is this a puppy? If so, he needs to learn to enjoy being handled. This can be done by petting briefly praising and then feeding a treat, pet/treat, pet/treat, pet/treat for several sessions, gradually increasing the time he is being pet, until he looks forward to being pet because he has asociated with all these good things. He can also be pet briefly before being released to go eat his meal. This method can be used as well with older dogs, but I would recommend seeing a trainer or behavior consultant for safety and correct implementation.
Question: My chihuahua used to let me pet her. She is usually very affectionate and loves being petted, but all of a sudden she starts growling and biting at me when I pet her. Why is this?
Answer: There can be various possibilities. Perhaps you did something that may have startled her in the past, although not intentional. Some things as innocent like a sneeze, sudden laughter, coughing, dropping things on the floor at times may startle dogs, and they may not like to be approached. In some cases, small dogs may not like to be picked up to be petted. At times, it can be the dog is suffering from some health issue that makes being petted painful (ear infection, neck/back pain, etc.). Some dogs may like to be pet, but they get tired of it soon and tell owners they had enough by growling. There can be many more explanations such as using a different perfume that bothers the dog, the emotion of the person, etc.
Question: My dog is very friendly and wants attention from everyone. But sometimes, with certain people, he becomes aggressive. Even though he might growl or snap at one of those friends, he always goes back to them for more attention. Why does this happen, and why with only a select number of people? My dog is a large mixed breed, neutered, four-years-old and has always had this behavior.
Answer: There is likely some pattern going on, but it is not being noticed. In behavior terms, we are looking for the "antecedent" in other words exactly what is triggering the behavior. It could be anything as subtle as not being comfortable around people with blue eyes, wearing hats, smelling like alcohol or approaching him in a certain way. It sounds like though he recovers afterward and approaches again. Something to consider as well is whether perhaps he dislikes being touched in a certain way. Until the underlying trigger is found, it may be difficult working on the problem because we do not know what is causing it. In the meanwhile, please use caution as these behaviors may escalate. Perhaps a behavior professional can help pinpoint the problem and suggest a behavior modification plan.
Question: Do you give referrals for animal behavior specialists? I'm having issues with a couple of behaviors from asking for affection and then biting to growling and snapping when he is sleeping and other defensive behavior in general. He is almost three, neutered, and didn't show any of these behaviors the first year or so. I'm looking for some professional help.
Answer: I do not offer referrals specifically, but generally, a DACVB can be a good place to start since sometimes defensive behaviors can be seen in dogs due to medical problems. Since your dog hasn't shown any signs prior to the first 1.5 years, you may want to rule out medical problems first before considering behavior modification. A DACVB is a board-certified veterinarian specializing in behavior, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.
Question: We rescued a 2 1/2 year-old mixed-breed (wiener/beagle/rottweiler/shepard?) 3 months ago. He is very loving with me and is usually that way with others, but he's nipped my mom and dad (each once soon after we got him) and snapped once at my teenage son. His aggressive behavior has almost always occurred when a person is moving toward me in a way that my dog seems to find threatening. What steps should I take after these occurrences to help stop them from happening in the first place?
Answer: Any time there are cases of potentially aggressive behaviors (growling, lunging, snapping, biting) it's important to seek the assistance of a dog behavior professional. This is for safety and the correct implementation of behavior modification which requires a certain level of skill. Usually, I would work on such cases using methods based on desensitization and counterconditioning https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Dog-Behavior-A-Guide-t... (after taking a careful history of what the dog perceives as "threatening)", where care is taken to not send the dog over threshold https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Dog-Behavior-Understan... and aiming to form positive associations. In other words, I would pay close attention to the dog's body language for the most subtle signs of stress, while I would guide a person to move towards you in a calm manner first, then increasingly with more decision, while the dog is being fed high value treats. I would then progress or take steps back based on how the dog responds. I would be aiming to attain a positive conditioned emotional response. Of course, this is just an example, so a disclaimer is warranted here, do not try this on your own, but please consult with a dog behavior professional using force-free behavior modification methods for safety.
Question: Why does my little dog growl every time I pet him?
Answer: It sounds like he may be uncomfortable. Some dogs do not enjoy being petted. It could also be he has some sort of pain going on. Small, sensitive dogs in particular who often go to the groomers may become hand shy or not very tolerant of being handled/touched in the long term.
Question: My golden cocker spaniel is 11 months old. He is a very friendly and loving dog, but the past month he has shown little glimpses of aggression. Not sure why this is happening but it seems to be when we move him from a spot or if we go to pet him as if he is comfy and doesn’t wanna be messed with. Do you think that this is the case?
Answer: Yes, I can see this happening, especially if he wasn't conditioned to being picked up and handled in certain ways. If you need to move him, it would be best to train him with the "off" cue and reward it so that you don't have to touch him much. Say "off" as you toss a treat or kibble to the ground. If you want to work on the issue with the help of professionals, here are some steps to create positive associations with being picked up and moved.https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Why-is-My-Dog-Growling... It also helps if once moved to a new spot, you give a few treats/ kibble so to leave a good impression. You may also find this read helpful: https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Help-My-Dog-is-Aggress...
© 2011 Adrienne Farricelli
Tanya on August 14, 2020:
I have a 2 and a half year old Siberian/Malamute.
Recently he has been showing signs of aggression which have causes many problems.
First we had fence aggression with the other neighbors dogs in which we solutioned with putting him on a leash to be away from the fence.
One day he had gotten out (eacape artist that he is) and our neighbor had stated our furson, "chases her down snarling and attempting to bite her." We got a behavioral trainer and working with our furson felt it was more of a misunderstanding due to how she saw and worked with him.
Recently when we felt he just needed to get to know the neighborhood, a group of kiddos and the parent came to brinf our daughter back, and when the son after telling him that the doggo is Friendly, the boy shot his hand out to pet him and our Husky snapped at the boy. He didn't break skin but the boy was terrified, and i know it was neighbors whom were told our dog is dangerous. The AOC even came out stating therw were complaining about how they were terrified he'd break down the fence to come attack them (back during the fence aggression).
I did all the exercises the trainer had set for us, and again the trainer doesn't see him as a threat, but after what happened I am terrified since this actually is a first time I've seen him behave like that when normally he really is a very friensly dog (minus thay fence
Andrew on July 20, 2020:
We have an 18 month old Mini Schnauzer, Lab, Terrier mix named Nash. Nash is a rescue and we got him at 8 weeks old. Since we got him, he’s always been weary towards strangers and would yelp/cry and runaway if someone new walked into the house as if he has been injured. However, he was also gentle and very loyal to us and the rest of our family and those he was introduced to as a puppy. We got the sense he was a very anxious dog and had started becoming territorial over some of his toys and lately his food which he did not do early on as we trained him. In the past 3-4 months however, he’s showed signs of fear related aggression once our vet prescribed him on anti anxiety meds. We’re frustrated bc he can be so playfully and is also needy but gets into these moods where even us as the owners cannot go near him. Any advice would be very helpful!!!
Michael on July 01, 2020:
I am curious if you had advice for Sue below as our situation sounds similar. My parents have a 8 month old toy poodle who recently started showing aggression mainly in the evenings. Certain changes set him off (ie someone stands up from the couch or leaves the room). He is also extremely territorial over socks. Thanks for any advice you can provide.
HJD123 on June 24, 2020:
My dog is a rescue. I've had him for about a year. Anytime your face gets too close to his face he snaps.As soon as he snaps he's right back to asking for pets. Most of the time it is easy to avoid but sometimes it happens accidentally and we also have kids that visit.
Sarah b on May 24, 2020:
Our chihauhau loves being petted but can turn and then growl is puzzling
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 08, 2020:
Hi Sarah Campbell, I would have her see a vet just to make sure there is nothing medical going on. Do you happen to take her to a groomer? Sometimes they may get touch sensitive after several trips.
Sarah Campbell on April 30, 2020:
I have a Shitzu who’s 9 years old, for the last few years we have not been able to touch her tail or any where near it or she will growl and run round in circles, sometimes nearly biting us. Recently we can’t touch anywhere other than her head or she will growl and do the same thing.
aberlemann85 on April 26, 2020:
I have a male pom-chi thats recently started growling/grumbling at me(his owner) ANY time i touch him, pet him, or pick him up to get on the couch, but he first comes to me and whines for help onto the couch or comes climb in my lap,but as soom as i touch him hes grumbling at me. I know he has been acting this way since his testicles dropped and he's constantly smelling and licking his male parts any time it comes out and right after i touch him or pick him up, it is as though he thinks he might lose "IT"....THANKS FOR ANY HELP OR TIPS ANYONE MAY HAVE FOR ME!!!!!
Virginia on April 21, 2020:
My great uncles dog In the mountains well me and him I guess have a bond I did name him and spend a lot of time with him while I was up I knew him since he was a puppy but there is this one weird thing he does when I sit down he is like really close to me and when I push him off or try to get up he growls he is fine when I am standing?
lsearl on March 04, 2020:
In the past 4 months my dog has begun lifting his leg when he goes outside and peeing over where my other dog goes. He has also become aggressive. When he is sitting on the couch and you go to pet him he now growls. Or if he is lying on the bed he will growl or snap. Also, when he is eating if you come around him he will start to growl. Or he will be happy and you pet him and suddenly he is growling. He looks conflicted when he is doing it too. This is sudden behavior and we don't know what to do!
Sue on January 09, 2020:
I have a 3 year old Lhatsa Apso, she is very loving but has a jekle and Hyde personality. She growls at us for apparently no reason
, she also birrillls around aggrssively, snapping when one of us leaves the room or house or sometomes just move seat. We dont know what to do about this?
Pam on December 23, 2019:
My french bulldog will come to me looking for attention and then growl at me if I pet him
Norman cullifer on December 14, 2019:
Dog a inside terrier breed started being real agrasive toward my wife and daughter when they come in the bedroom where me and him hang out he did not used to be like that
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 25, 2019:
Darren, this can be due to protective behaviors towards you, territoriality or just mere not being comfortable with people. Your dog is now a teenager and changes during this time are not uncommon. You may want to get a behavior professional using force-free methods to help you out so to nip this behavior in the bud.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 25, 2019:
Hi Amanda, since she potentially snaps, for safety, you want to enlist the help of a dog behavior professional who can guide you and your dog into correct implementation of behavior modification. I wouldn't force interactions she isn't comfortable in. This read may be interesting to you, but you'll need a behavior professional to help you out. https://pethelpful.com/dogs/How-To-Play-the-Treat-...
Darren pike on November 21, 2019:
Hi I have a 18 month old rottweiler Cross French mastiff who is like a baby with us but sometimes scared and unsure, towards the family he has never growled or anything no matter the situation, but when someone is on the other side of our gate and we are talking to them he will jump up for attention but a minute later he will growl and had snapped at people, can you tell me why this could be,he has also been unsure of people who are already in the house but new to him to the point I was unsure how the situation would turn out.
Amanda on November 19, 2019:
So my dog doesnt lash out randomly at people she is godd at ignoring them when we are out. Im happy to see she takes the liberty of smelling their legs and feet(considering she is rather small) however if they offer a hand for her to sniff she will growl and i potentially snap. This is my first dog to raise on my own being an adult now and its different than when i was a kid with dogs. I didnt understand the importance of socialization and how to properly teach it so now im trying to work on it so that i can HOPEFULLY allow people to pet her and interact without fear of her getting aggressive.
1) how should direct people when trying to have her smell and interact?
2) is there anything i can do to make her relax around people before letting her sniff?
3)what is the best process or method to allow her to sniff or interact?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 31, 2019:
Nashmom, it is difficult to put ourselves in a dog's mind and find the exact cause that may trigger dogs to act that way. It may often be subtle things such as the dog may feel intimidated by certain aspects of a person, but not others. Perhaps he finds his voice a bit deep and scary and he doesn't like when he is up and around versus sitting which is less intimidating. He sounds like he really wants to like him, but there are some things that scare him and trigger him to growl. Medical reasons should always be ruled out to play it safe. Behavior modification for such cases generally involves finding the exact triggers with the help of a professional and using desensitization and counterconditioning techniques.
Nash Mom on August 28, 2019:
Hi - I have a 4 year old lab mix, we adopted him about 3 months ago. He comes to the office with us daily and loves every guy in the office, gets extremely excited to come to the office each day. He started acting aggressive to one of my co workers/ other dog dads who he previously loved and always used to get excited to see. This behavior started last week and has persisted since. Specific behavior to note, whenever he talks or stands up Nash will growl or bark. He will also run up to him with a wagging tail sometimes and look for pets but then quickly start growling and barking at him and then circle back to get pet and so on. What could have caused this behavior out of no where? Could it be a medical reason? Any advice I would appreciate.
I should mention he has exhibited similar behavior to my brother at first and a female friend that were at my house last week also so I don't think its just this person or a male thing. The behavior did not continue towards them the next day though unlike my co worker.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 27, 2019:
Cbrown1018,This is a delicate situation that requires the intervention of a dog behavior professional using force-free methods for safety and correct implementation of behavior modification. Although a muzzle can prevent bites, it shouldn't be used to expose your dog to children because that won't do much in changing your dog's emotional response towards children. Ideally, a muzzle is used in conjunction with behavior modification, which aims in keeping the dog under threshold and changing the dog's emotions towards children through the use of desensitization an counterconditioning.
Cbrown1018 on August 24, 2019:
Just got Spazz from the shelter. He's a miniature Dachshund mix. He Loves women, is ok with my husband and grandson but chases down children and tries to bite them. How do I correct this type of behavior? I'm terrified he'll really hurt someone and am buying a muzzle for when I know kids will be nearby. I hate using this type of thing,but I don't know what else to do.And we aren't going to return him to the shelter.
Alise G. on August 02, 2019:
My boyfriend has a Rottweiler (8yrs). He adores my boyfriend and likes affection even with me but sometimes while I pet him he will all of a sudden growl low. I thought it was maybe a particular place I touch but I noticed it's a different spot every time. He is a good dog except for that behavior of growling. He does it with strangers sometimes but I have been living with him for a year and it still happens on occasion. I have no idea what it can be and I want to approach it in a positive way rather than negative.
Julia e evans on July 05, 2019:
My dog oaws me to stroje him but then growls!!???
Remy Hansen on May 05, 2019:
I have a question and I’d really appreciate your advice. My cousin adopted a female border collie puppy about 7 months ago. She was rescued from an Amish farm with a bunch of other uncared for dogs. Her name is Molly and she’s one of the sweetest puppies I’ve ever met. She loves giving hugs and kisses and will snuggle up to me in a heartbeat. My brother met her for the first time today and the moment she saw him she started barking, growling, and snapping at him. Then she ran over to me and hid behind me. When my cousin came to see what was going on, Molly ran towards her and started hiding behind her too. This whole time she was growling at my brother. We tried to introduce them but Molly wasn’t having it and kept running away from him. Every time she sees him she starts freaking out and gets super aggressive. But when he leaves or he’s in a different room where she can’t see him, she’s back to her cute and cuddly self. A couple hours ago we were watching a movie and my brother was sitting on the floor and Molly came in the room and surprised us all when she randomly snuggled up to my brother and started giving him kisses. We thought that maybe she was finally warming up to him. But as soon as the movie ended, my brother got up to get a drink and came back into the room and Molly started attacking him again. She kept going until finally my cousin had to pull her into another room and close the door between them so they were separated. Molly’s met new people before and she may have been timid at first but she always warmed up to them within a matter of seconds. She’s never acted this way before. We thought that maybe it had to do with something that could’ve happened to her before she was rescued but that doesn’t really explain why she went from aggressive to cuddly and then to aggressive again with my brother. Is it because he’s male? My cousin and I are both female and Molly tends to be more cuddly with women. But she’s never acted this way around another man. Does it have something to do with my brother? What do you think?
Tammy Brooks on March 31, 2019:
I have a terrier mix she is2 1/2 yrs old. We got her fixed at 6 months. Ever since then she is sweet in the morning most of the time. However as the day goes on especially towards night(sometimes earlier) she gets aggressive with our other dogs and us. Example: my husband was sitting on the couch at 1 end she was on the other end he moved his foot and she started showing teeth and went after him. She will lay in my lap or beside me in the chair and if I move the slightest she will growl at me. We have 3 other dogs and she will attack them for no reason. I love her and when she is sweet she is very sweet but that is becoming less often now. I am thinking about getting rid of her before she hurts someone. Any suggestions or help I would appreciate it. The thought of getting rid of a dog breaks my heart
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 14, 2018:
Emily, normally for cases reactivity towards other dogs on walks I would work with the owners in person and suggest implementing behavior modification such as LAT https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Changing-Dog-Behavior-...
However, the fact that he re-directs his arousal and sometimes growls at you, makes your case somewhat more concerning. I would suggest rather than sending your pup to doggy school, which I guess you are referring to a board and training program, working instead with a dog trainer /behavior consultant for safety and correct implementation. Look for one that uses positive, humane dog behavior modification and who can eventually coach you on walks. Best wishes!
Emily0115 on November 11, 2018:
I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT, whenever I take him for a walks, we have problems. He hates other dogs and sometimes even growls at us. My husband and I were thinking about taking him to 'doggy school', but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest 'doggy school' is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!
robin on August 27, 2018:
My dog fits into the category of had-enough. I am not sure that the solution you suggest is practicable as it would have to involve too many strangers. My dog looks so cute everybody wants to pet and hug her-like a large, soft teddy bear. But I found your article useful in validating my hunch and I will have to find a way to manage her behaviour and that of other's towards her. I can understand that at 4 years age,and giant size, she really does not want to be treated like a cuddly toy. Thank you.
Josh on June 26, 2018:
Okay, so you lay out a lot of options with great information and solutions, but then on the very last option which actually makes sense for our dog.... No solutions or even a conclusion.... Sadly, for us, beyond at least giving us an indication of the issue, this article has been no help.
Jaelon Hunter on November 06, 2017:
We have 2 huskies and one is acting more on the aggressive side and is looking at house hold members as food and making small nips at others he is 8yrs old
Tom on September 12, 2017:
It's 12 at night and my backyard it connected to the side door of the neighbors. I let my dog out and a man I never seen before comes around the corner speaking to me. He tells me he has a german shepard and that the pit bull is the girls that lives there. My dog sniffs him let's him pet him then backs off very aggressively and stands behind me barking at the man. The guy shakes my hand tells me his name then walks off into the darkness. Is my dog telling me something?
Casey D. on May 17, 2017:
My 1 yr old doxy/beagle mix is exhibiting similar behaviors to this with my mom. I'm seeking help from a behaviorist to try and work through it, but usually my dog will try to nip at my mom (and only my mom) after a few seconds of petting. We've had her 3 months (rescued) and it's happened at least 3 times.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 23, 2016:
Growls are good, they are a way for dogs to communicate they are uncomfortable before resorting to more serious threats such as snaps and bites, so it's a good thing this dog has been using his warning system. You are in a dog's territory and dogs may not be too comfortable having new people entering their homes. Let the dog associate you with good things. You can try to get some kibble on a visit and then on the next, hold it in your hand and as you walk in, drop it around.Drop some nearby the same area where he growled at you. When you leave, drop some too by the door. Avoid sudden movements (don't toss the kibble, just drop as you walk), avoid direct eye contact and don't walk near resources such as sleeping areas, food bowls and beds in case he is possessive. Please be careful and if you are worried let the owner know and see what options you may have.
jess on July 22, 2016:
I am kinda house sitting for a neighbor thats out of town I go to his house 3 times a day and feed and let the dog out to go potty well for some reason he growled at me and I wasnt even touching him should I be scared that he will bite me he is a husky and has never done this to anyone
mathira from chennai on December 22, 2011:
Useful tips for pet lovers.
Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on December 22, 2011:
My dog does not like head pats or, to a lesser degree, hugs, but LOVES tummy tickles! She has no shame about flopping over on her back on the sofa beside anyone and raising her front legs for a possible tummy rub. This is the same dog that will back up if she thinks you are about to pat her on top of the head. However, she doesn't mind a gentle stroke from her forehead across her head and down her neck and back.
Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on December 21, 2011:
I thought this was called a "personality" not a problem. I know some people who have this issue as well -- I wish they would just mellow out like most of the dogs I know. Voting this Up and Useful.
Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on December 21, 2011:
this is a great HUB. If you think about it, it only makes sense.. I think if we do not like to be patted on the head why would a dog like to be patted? and they can have earaches like we do.. They hurt like we do.. Love this HUB.. I am going to get my sons to read it. I am bookmarking it for them..I VOTED UP AND AWESOME.